Palm Capsule: Conceived and compiled by Christian Mayer

  • Event

1137 S Cochran Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90019

For this event only, contributions to the Palm Capsule were displayed at the Mackey Garage Top before going underground the next day.

Writer and historian Victoria Dailey presented her lecture “Piety & Perversity, The Palms of Los Angeles,” and then Christian Mayer, joined her and MAK Center director Kimberli Meyer in conversation afterwards.

About Palm Capsule

During his time in the MAK Center’s Artists and Architects-in-Residence program last year, artist Christian Mayer focused on what is reported to be the oldest living palm tree in Los Angeles. With over 150 years of history in L.A.’s soil, this palm acts as mute witness to the growth of the city from its early days as a Spanish civilian pueblo to the megalopolis of today.

Located in Exposition Park since 1914, the tree’s life story can be traced back to the late 1850s when it was moved from its origin in California’s Colorado Desert to San Pedro Street, and then to the front of the main entrance of the Southern Pacific Railway Station in 1888. As the tree greeted thousand of new arrivals to the city during its 26 years outside the station, it earned status as an L.A. landmark.

To preserve the tree and its sentimental associations after the demolition of the train station in 1914, another relocation was necessary and the tree was replanted at its current site.

Palm trees have long been icons for Los Angeles and today it’s hard to imagine the city without them. This specific palm tree though, perhaps the first one to establish this strong connection, seems mostly forgotten and, close to the end of its natural lifespan, will be gone forever in only a matter of years.

Christian Mayer’s artwork Palm Capsule intends to prolong this living history into the 22nd century by burying an airtight, 14x14x30-inch stainless steel box filled with scientific and artistic contributions developed by primarily Los Angeles-based artists, writers and scientists after an exploration of the tree and its story. Buried next to the palm and intended to remain underground for 100 years, this capsule pens a note to the people of the year 2115. With contents positioned between science and fiction, it does not intend to give an accurate record of historical events, but rather initiate a sort of myth that can be reconstructed out of these fragments and spread after its unearthing.

Palm Capsule featured contributions by the following artists: Kathryn Andrews, James Benning, Kaucyila Brooke, York Chang, Young Chung, Zoe Crosher, Morgan Fisher, Andreas Fogarasi, Andrea Fraser, Mariah Garnett, Lenz Haring, Marcus Herse, Darcy Huebler, Alice Könitz, Sonia Leimer, Devon McDonald-Hyman, Davida Nemeroff, Luciano Perna, Gala Porras-Kim, Stephen Prina, Six & Petritsch, Mandla Reuter, Stephanie Taylor, Geoff Tuck, James Welling, Alexander Wolff, and Heimo Zobernig

Essays, lyrics, and poems by: Donald R. Hodel, Victoria Dailey, Christian Mayer, Herbert Mayer, Kimberli Meyer, Erin Olivia Weber, and Alexis Hyman Wolff

Palm Capsule was funded in part by the Austrian Federal Chancellery.
Support from the MAK Center and Greene Exhibitions. 

Burial ceremony for Palm Capsule

Exposition Park, next to the historic palm tree

Thursday, June 25, 2015